N. Arizona-New Mexico Preview

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

Despite being undefeated, New Mexico had been playing mostly under the radar. That came to an end after its last game.

The Lobos, ranked for the first time in more than a decade, look to improve to 11-0 for the first time since 1973 when they host Northern Arizona on Wednesday.

New Mexico moved into the Top 25 at No. 19 this week for the first time since March 1999, when it was ranked 25th heading into the NCAA tournament. The Lobos recorded a pair of wins last week, beating then-No. 16 Texas A&M 84-81 at Houston on Saturday.

It was their first win over a ranked opponent since defeating then-No. 8 Wichita State 71-68 on Dec. 22, 2006.

"It's a huge, huge win for our program and our team," coach Steve Alford said. "For a young team to do the things that we're doing, I'm very excited about it."

Alford, in his third season with the Lobos, led them to a Mountain West regular-season championship in 2008-09. He has only three upperclassmen on the roster but still has one of the top-scoring teams in Division I, averaging 82.3 points per game.

Senior Roman Martinez is leading New Mexico, averaging 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. He's also one of the nation's top 3-point shooters at 53.7 percent.

Martinez is 17 for 24 (70.8 percent) from beyond the arc in the last three games, scoring over 20 each time. He finished with 22 points Saturday, hitting two key free throws in the final seconds.

"Ro's a big part of what we do at both ends of the floor," Alford said. "In those last seconds and those last possessions you want the ball in Ro's hands."

Martinez will be looking to help New Mexico improve to 11-0 for the first time since the 1973-74 season, when it opened 12-0. The Lobos have won 15 in a row at home, six this season by an average of 19.8 points.

While New Mexico is one of the better scoring teams in the nation, Northern Arizona (3-5) has struggled offensively. It snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday, beating UC Riverside 68-56 at home.

DeAngelo Jones and Cameron Jones each scored 17 for the Lumberjacks, who led most of the game.

"We know when we play with a lot of energy and passion we can be a pretty good defensive team," Cameron Jones told the Lumberjacks' official Web site. "That's what we worked on this week. We knew we had to play defensive."

Northern Arizona had averaged 50.7 points while giving up 74.0 in losing its previous three - all on the road.

The Lumberjacks are 0-21 against ranked opponents. This is the first time they've faced a Top 25 team since losing 87-46 to then-No. 4 Kansas on Nov. 21, 2007.

New Mexico and Northern Arizona have split 82 meetings, although the Lobos have won three straight and four of the last five. They posted an 81-70 victory in the most recent matchup Nov. 27, 2004.

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